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Ina Steiner on EmailIna Steiner on LinkedinIna Steiner on Twitter
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.

15 thoughts on “eBay Is Developing Technology to Catch Bad Buyers”

  1. Of course its all smoke & mirrors – but dont tell that to some here … they wont believe it.

    ANY buyer (especially when eBays buyer base is shrinking) is welcome on eBay – dont let this guy (whom ever he is) fool you.

    Once burnt, twice shy they say – and sellers have been around eBay long enough to know when they are being hosed.

    eBay wont toss a buyer if a seller claims bad behavior – and everyone knows it.

    In my last run in, eBay 1) let the buyer change her story multiple times – and each time her story was disproven, she changed her tune and eBay said OK. FIrst it was INR – but her email complaining about usage of the item showed she was a liar. 2) they she complained the item was used – but again her email showed she got a new with tag item. 3) then she said she didnt want it, but I have a no returns policy (just for these people) and eBay said nothing.

    I asked how/why you get to lie 3x aka you get 3 chances at the brass ring and eBays STELLER script reading people had no idea (dumb as a rock).(go hire Americans who are unemployed/underemployed instead please).

    Then eBay refused to step in – after I called in and they said 5 days and 2 weeks went by.

    FINALLY I stood my ground and got a supervisor who (begrudgingly) made it right.

    As everyone knows – reporting “anything” doesnt mean anything. You can report fake items (I report ones where it says IN THE LISTING that the item is a reporduction) and nothing every happens. You can report bad buyers and you get the childish “we cant tell you what we did/didnt do but dont worry)(yeh right cause that person is STILL there).

    Feedbacks STILL mean nothing – my 8K+ vs a guy with 23 (and Im at %100 feedback for like 5 yrs).

    This guy is a shmoe, anyone who believes him …and I have a bridge to sell you in Kings County NY.

    Hes here to (as they say in the electronics biz) to “kosher” sellers who want to up and leave due to eBays games.

    Until eBay can prove they have turned over a new leaf – its ALL BS

  2. What Pace306 said!

    Ebay needs no new “technology” to uncover bad buyers – we sellers have been reporting them for decades. What eBay “needs” are PEOPLE TO TAKE ACTION AGAINST THESE BAD BUYERS.

    I suspect this exercise in “building a system to trap bad buyers” is simple bovine effluence – nothing more than another carrot-and-stick to get sellers to believe eBay is going to actually DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE PROBLEM when they have no intention of doing so. How many times have we been told eBay is coming up with some new thing to protect sellers from bad buyers. In the past two quarters eBay has even dreamed up the exclusive panel of sellers to relate “bad buyers” to eBay Management – with at least one of the two panels being disbanded before it even got off the ground. Oh, and it was all so secretive too, but eBay KNEW the word would spread, and they actually counted on it.

    We’ve all seen how eBay treats sellers, going against eBay’s own PUBLISHED POLICIES and using loopholes to avoid doing ANYTHING about bad buyers at all. There was even a seller who related to eBay that a potential buyer, which he had blocked, and threatened to break into his home (after doxing him) and RAPE HIS WIFE! When reported to eBay, eBay did nothing and the buyer is still on the system.

    Ebay is finally feeling the loss of so many sellers (after all, buyers are leaving BECAUSE there are fewer sellers, so eBay really wants sellers to think that eBay cares about them.

    News Flash: eBay doesn’t care at all and never will. Read the article again and tell me what exactly eBay is getting for this new technology that they didn’t have before? They’re STILL relying on sellers to report bad buyers, and they could so all this previously. This is just more eBay management BS.

  3. If only there was a way to warn other sellers about bad buyers. We could call it Accurate Feedback and make it publicly available so bad buyers couldn’t hide… I’m surprised nobody thought about it before!
    (I’m a long-time eBayer from back when Pierre was still doing the Perl coding, so obviously aware of how eBay was in its glory day when PayPal was still a new, shiny thing and checks or MO were standard for payments.)

  4. Couple of thoughts

    1.Buyer lies to get full refund even when returns for any reason are accepted – seller is penalized in seller metrics (to later pay extra penalties for being high in service metrics) – ebay takes no corrective measures.
    Buyer is enticed to lie to get all monies even if they don’t deserve it; some sellers may over report to avoid being punished especially in situations where buyer made mistake and put seller in not as described bu]y mistake default
    2. Other ebay sellers buy items to retun them to eliminate competition. They do that especially from other new accounts . How is this going to get accomplished if ebay allows everyone to open unlimited amount of accounts?

  5. What is a buyer is a poor buyer and is lured by low pricing and constantly get into trouble and opens return cases?
    Sellers over reporting small issues to avoid hige ebay penalities (service metrics)?
    Buyers who lie to get full refunds?
    Other ebay sellers wanting to eliminate competition buy and return items from multiple accounts? Ebay allows unlimited number of accounts?

  6. Yes, I never knew how ignorant and rude buyers could be til this year.
    It’s like we’re entertaining children with credit cards.
    Another reason to go back to Checks and Money Orders.
    Then watch the rash decisions dry up.

  7. There are other measures that they can look at such as blocked bidder lists. Sometimes I will block a potential client based on an inquiry they are making which I find to be problematic. Why not look at those accounts that are on many peoples’ list?
    The other issue with false buyer claims that hurts sellers is the added penalty for a high rate of claims. Something must be done to undo this fee when the claims by the buyers are false.
    I have always felt that whether eBay was taking higher fees or siding with buyers disproportionately, the environment between seller to buyer worsens due to a lack of trust.

  8. Who do they think they are kidding.
    I’m sure it won’t be simple to report, probably have to spend hours on the phone which is what discourages people now from reporting buyers, unless it’s a major rip off.

  9. eBay needs more guidelines for their appeals department because those folks are mostly flying by the seat of their pants. I would start with defining the word ‘defective.’
    If you buy a TV described as no defects, and the buyer turns it on, and no sound comes out of the left speaker, I think we can all agree it is defective. What if the speaker begins malfunctioning after a week?
    eBay’s return policy is stated clearly that the item must be returned in the same condition it was received. The moneyback guarantee is not a warranty, which they often try to sell the buyer at the time of the sale.
    I sell used shoes and have learned that about 20 years ago, many manufacturers began using a black compound for their soles that, over time, will weaken and crumble to dust when used. I’ve had this happen to buyers where the shoes looked almost new (the shoes likely hadn’t been worn for years) and they report (with pictures) the soles disintegrated soon after they began wearing them. Does that make them defective? Probably, but how long do you get to wear them and still be covered by eBay’s money back guarantee. Isn’t the guarantee really a warranty then?
    When I see a shoe in the thrift store that I think might crumble, based on my past experience (I’ve had a handful of these complaints over the years) I won’t buy them. I still get this happening occasionally, the latest being a pair of golf shoes. The return request from the buyer said the soles failed during the 1st round of golf he played with them. He wanted his money back as they were defective. He posted pictures. He likely had no idea that the soles could just turn to dust, but rather than contact the manufacturer (he likely knew that their WARRANTY was for 1 year to original purchaser), he assumed eBay’s money back guarantee was a 30 day warranty.
    But it isn’t and I told him so. I also used the one time offer eBay has to offer him a partial refund and keep the item. I offered 50% and told him I didn’t wish to profit off his misfortune.
    What happened in the past (but not this time) was that the buyer would decline and I would approve the return (at the eBay’s CS advice to avoid getting a negative strike against me when the return was escalated to a CASE). When I got the shoes back, I would deduct the 50% from the payback, the buyer would notice that, and then open a case. eBay’s computer would immediately make a decision (ALWAYS for the buyer) and tell me I could appeal. Appeals used to be on the phone but they no longer take calls directly. A regular CS can take notes and send them to the appeals dept, but I don’t recommend that because they likely won’t get the details or the logic correct. When appeals were done directly on the phone I was always able to win after several tries (it’s not a court of law, I just appealed until I won). I learned that there were no guidelines for them to follow. Often times they would say that obviously the shoes were defective as they fell apart “the 1st time”. I would counter how much time that was? How many miles? Did they walk in the rain? See why eBay’s Guarantee is not a warranty?
    I lost the last appeal, the one in writing. I actually treasure the writing approach as it’s all documented. The answer I got was a form letter where they said they were not going to give me a strike, and then they suggested I offer free shipping in my listings.
    I appealed again in writing and this time (I think it was also a form letter) where they refused to reverse the decision because ‘it couldn’t be determined when the damages occurred’, even though it was in their records that they buyer said it happened on the golf course while he was wearing them.
    I appealed again, pointing out their lack of attention to the facts, and got no reply. Further attempts to contact Appeals were ignored, so I found online the email addy of CEO Iannone, and explained the situation. The next day I got payment from eBay for the 50% I should have been granted, and an email using a personal email address from an employee who they wanted to call me, which they did.
    He said eBay was really trying to improve and asked for the details. I also told him they need to fix something that happened in this last case which I haven’t mentioned: After I offered the buyer 50% refund to keep the shoes, he never responded, one way or the other. Almost every day I would look at the status of the return and it would say ‘waiting for the buyer to respond’. After 10 days of this, he evidently was allowed to open a case, and the computer sent me an email saying they would make a decision soon, and 5 minutes later, sent me another email saying they buyer would return the shoes at my expense, then deduct the refund from my money.
    So the eBay exec said he would report that they needed to reprogram their computer to not allow the buyer to open a case until they decline the partial refund offer and then allow the seller time to act.
    So it seems somebody there is trying to improve things and fix the bugs. You may be wondering why they just don’t look at the buyer’s original complaint, and deny the return request while explaining to them they didn’t buy a warranty? Maybe they’ll get around to that some day, but I think for now, most sellers just accept the role of insurance company and pay out the claims while never having received any premiums.

  10. Its naive to believe (especially now that eBay is in bed with Adyen) that eBay would change anything when it comes to bad buyers – simply because eBay is DEATHLY afraid of “the chargeback”.

    When they could push it off on Paypal, that was one thing. Now Adyen just sends them on to eBay (happily) and there isnt a d@mn thing eBay can do about it – except push it on sellers.

    When you get a chargeback – you can watch how fast eBay reacts – since they WONT eat the fees.

    So you (still) have honest seller vs crooked buyer – who will do a chargeback – there’s no tech on this planet (unless you have a printing press and plates) that can fix that.

    Push comes to shove, bad buyers will simply chargeback and make eBay eat the funds. How many Macbooks will eBay eat????

    Of course (as others here have said – better then I) the simple easy method to solve MOST of this issue is …. the return of 2 way feedback. Its just that simple … but lets hire some dweeb and have him give a Tedtalk about it and tell people how hard hes trying to figure it all out … BS – reinstate 2 way feedback and watch most of the issues go away.

    But in both cases eBay doesnt have the cajones to do whats right ….. they never do.

  11. Well, lets be honest here. The sellers of machines, ie. cars, cameras, anything mechanical needs service. Sellers on eBay, 90% are idiots who inherit or find items at estate sales or yard sales, products, they do NOT know how to check out. I have bought at less 75 bad cameras on eBay from idiot Sellers. Then I am forced, to tell them about their INAD item. If you were selling a car that was 65 year old, they understand it needs servicing. A camera they think is suppose to last 100 years? OMG the stupidity of eBay Sellers! But, this is eBay’s fault. They should have a button that says If NOT serviced this item may need servicing! This is to educate the Seller. Professional Buyers are far more educated about the Product, than the seller! Anything over 35 years old , should be in a special category. No returns , no matter what!!!!!. This would help to stop the buying thieves overseas from scamming eBay, and the Seller also.

  12. eBay Is Developing Technology to Catch Customers Who Use Too Much Ketchup At Walkers

    eBay told concerned restaurant customers who are worried about the scarcity of ketchup over at Walkers West due to supply chain issues, that it’s working to protect them and insure that there’s sufficient ketchup for people who order fries. Though it also downplayed the scale of the problem, during the recent Restaurant Goer Check-in event this month, eBay Senior Director, Head of Ketchup allocations, Ian Bendmeoverwitz said his team was developing technology to help crack down on people who use too much ketchup using a “predictive approach.”

    eBay will also use third-party suppliers like Kraft and Heinz to identify eaters who are engaging in bad ketchup behavior.

    Bendmeoverwitz described three types of “bad eater” behavior:

    1) The eater goes back to the condiments station too many times/asks the help for too many packets.

    2) The buyer uses too much ketchup for the item he/she bought.

    3) The eater dumps his/her plate into the trash that still has alot of ketchup left on it.

    He presented a slide that showed these three behaviors and some of eBay’s eater protections.

    The slide also described “Predictive Approaches” eBay is working on (“under development”): “Data science models, identity linkage to previously suspended eaters.”

    “It’s a very important area of investment for my team and for eBay,” he said. “We’re going to use data science to try and anticipate when a eater might be abusive and use way too much ketchup , so that we can take actions in advance.

    “We’re looking to do more linkage to other eBay restaurants so that buyers who use too much can’t come back again if we’ve caught them before; and use third-party vendors who have information about their behavior at other places.”

    Bendmeoverwitz said if eaters waste too much ketchup – which he characterized as “virtual shoplifting” – then eBay will completely suspend them from the restaurant.

    NOTHING is more sacred then an eater or a potential eater knowing that when they enter en eBay establishment, they can feel confident that there WILL be enough ketchup for their needs.

    “We’re taking this seriously, and we’re investing in this,” he said. “We need your help to report these eaters.”

    But, he said, there’s black-and-white and there’s gray. “If we look at reports of all the eaters, there are a broad set of eaters that are reported by just one waiter. But when we look at how many of these eaters are reported by more than one waiter, it goes down to less than 10%.

    You can watch the entire Bendmeoverwitz video of him making a j@ck@ss of himself or jump to the part of Bendmeoverwitz’s presentation on bad eaters at about minute 21:14 in the video below. Concerned restaurant goers might also find the presentation on mustard to be interesting, it starts at about minute 16:46.

  13. Service Metrics! Service Metrics! Service Metrics!

    People are going to burn me. Thats a fact of life. Fortunately, and like no other marketplace, ebay lets me block them. So they can only burn me once. Hopefully we can catch, report, and remove more abusive users. That would be great but that isn’t my biggest concern.

    Letting black and white abuse count toward charging me higher FVFs is absolutely disgusting. This one aspect makes me want to quit. If I actually ever get charged for service Metrics I might quit. It can be black-and-white abuse by their own admission and there is no mechanism to remove it from service metrics. Service Metrics needs to be removed in its entirety. They need to remove the abuse or ditch the program.

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